What is Tinea?
Tinea is the medical name for a group of related skin infections, including athlete's foot, jock itch, and ringworm. Ringworm, which isn't a worm at all, is a common, contagious fungal infection of the skin. It can affect not only the skin, but also the nails and scalp. Tinea is caused by several types of mold-like fungi called dermatophytes that live on the dead tissues of the skin, hair, and nails. Contact with infected persons, animals, or infected surfaces may cause tinea to spread. Risk for tinea is increased with crowded living conditions, daycare centers or schools; contact with infected persons or animals; weak immune system due to illness or drugs; and warm, humid climates.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms of athlete’s foot are cracking, flaking, and peeling skin between the toes. The affected area is usually red and itchy. Patients may experience burning or stinging, and there may be blisters, oozing, or crusting in the affected area. In addition to the toes, the symptoms can also occur on the heels, palms, and between the fingers. Nails may become discolored, thick or crumbly if the fungus spreads to the nails.
Symptoms of ringworm include itchy, red, raised, scaly patches on the skin that may blister and ooze. The patches often have sharply-defined edges and may be more red around the edges with normal skin tone in the center. This may create the appearance of a ring.
What is the treatment?
While total prevention of tinea may be impossible, it is important to have good personal hygiene to reduce risk. Wash hands frequently and always bathe after contact sports, making sure to dry completely and use a clean towel. Wear flip flops in public showers and wash sports clothing regularly. Do not share towels or headgear (hats, helmets, combs, brushes).
If symptoms persist, visit a Take Care Health Provider to determine the appropriate course of treatment to relieve your athlete’s foot or ring worm. Topical application of antifungal or drying powders, lotions, or creams may be effective in treating tinea in many patients.
If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.